From the Raising Arcadia series , Vol. 1

Though overstuffed with obscure allusions and unnecessary infodumps, this series opener is pleasurably packed with clever,...

A 16-year-old girl detective stars in a mystery paying tribute to Sherlock Holmes.

Arcadia Greentree is a white, clever, middle-class scholarship student at a school for England's upper crust. She's not popular with either classmates or staff; is it because of her cold mannerisms, her conviction that she knows better than her teachers, or her penchant for offering unsolicited advice based on careful observation? Arcadia's content with her studies, the mysteries she unearths, and with the Saturday puzzles her mother gives her (each provided with enough information for readers to solve, followed by a clearly explained solution). Nonetheless, she's concerned about the unknowns within her own school: students behaving strangely, cameras watching the students' every move, a secret door in the headmaster's office. Something unsavory is happening, and Arcadia's parents are in danger. Sherlock Holmes parallels abound. Some, such as Arcadia's violin, will be recognizable to readers who've absorbed Holmes in popular culture. Others, including character and place names taken from lesser-known short stories or Arthur Conan Doyle's life, provide more fan service for adult Sherlock-ians than for young readers not so entrenched in the minutiae of Great Detective trivia.

Though overstuffed with obscure allusions and unnecessary infodumps, this series opener is pleasurably packed with clever, solvable, well-explained puzzles; hits the spot for a mystery lover . (Mystery. 12-14)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-981-4751-50-6

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016


In an unnamed country (a thinly veiled Philippines), three teenage boys pick trash for a meager living. A bag of cash in the trash might be—well, not their ticket out of poverty but at least a minor windfall. With 1,100 pesos, maybe they can eat chicken occasionally, instead of just rice. Gardo and Raphael are determined not to give any of it to the police who've been sniffing around, so they enlist their friend Rat. In alternating and tightly paced points of view, supplemented by occasional other voices, the boys relate the intrigue in which they're quickly enmeshed. A murdered houseboy, an orphaned girl, a treasure map, a secret code, corrupt politicians and 10,000,000 missing dollars: It all adds up to a cracker of a thriller. Sadly, the setting relies on Third World poverty tourism for its flavor, as if this otherwise enjoyable caper were being told by Olivia, the story's British charity worker who muses with vacuous sentimentality on the children that "break your heart" and "change your life." Nevertheless, a zippy and classic briefcase-full-of-money thrill ride. (Thriller. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-385-75214-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2010


The new kid in a near-reform school finds himself caught up in a disturbing animal-abuse case.

Accused of theft at his Las Vegas school, Danny Lopez needs a fresh start in a structured environment, and his parents think they've found just the place in Colorado: Cobalt Junior High Charter School, with a strict dress code, a draconian policy on communication and tightly outlined class instruction. As Danny adjusts to the silence and the scripts, he also gets caught up in the student sects, each of which claims to run the school. Meanwhile, a serial killer is murdering cats, and Danny is determined to uncover the secret before his cat is sacrificed. Generic protagonist Danny's lack of personality and distinctive voice is underscored by the stream of pop-culture references that pepper the narrative, seemingly in an attempt to reach out to the teen audience. Many of the plot points (rote memorization over critical thinking, absentee parents, religious instruction in schools) come across as social critique rather than narrative elements, and none of them feel particularly suited to the middle-school audience. Though the cat killings are slightly gruesome, the serial killer is never truly scary and has flimsiest motivation at best. The publisher has labeled this book for ages 14 and up, perhaps because of the serial killings. The gore isn't particularly gory, though, and protagonist, writing and setting all seem to skew this book to middle-school audiences. Bloody without terror, this tale barely deviates from formula. (Mystery. 12-13)


Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8109-8420-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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